Collegiate Crossover students use sports to reach children

by James Dotson & Lee Weeks, posted Thursday, June 15, 2000 (19 years ago)

ORLANDO, Fla. (BP)--As pastor of the one-year-old Journey Fellowship Baptist Church in east Orlando, Fla., David Baxter's vision for reaching his community by ministering to children is becoming a reality.

It's happening, thanks in part to the efforts of about a dozen college students participating in the Collegiate Crossover evangelistic outreach, a project that is part of the Crossover Orlando 2000 evangelism effort in conjunction with the Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting.

Ten children made professions of faith in Christ June 14 after a morning basketball and soccer clinic held at Jay Blanchard Park. Baxter's church hosted the June 12-15 morning sports clinics, attended by about 70 elementary and middle school students.

"We are just really blessed that these guys have come and helped out," Baxter said of the collegiate volunteers. "We couldn't have done it without them."

Eighth grader Ernesto Raya was glad Oklahoma State University senior Brent Tate cared enough to help him with his basketball skills in the scorching sun. But more than the lessons in basketball, Raya said he was thankful for what he learned about God.

"Everyone has sins and the only way to get rid of those sins is by accepting Jesus in your life," he said.

The sports clinics were among many venues the students worked with during the week as part of Collegiate Crossover in Orlando, which drew about 150 college students from across the country to share their faith throughout the city. Southern Baptists' evangelistic efforts during Crossover Orlando 2000 had resulted in more than 1,800 professions of faith in Christ by Wednesday afternoon, June 14.

College students spent about a week in Orlando rotating through different activities, including block parties, door-to-door witnessing, sharing Christ on the public transportation system and making follow-up visits with people who had accepted Christ.

Bonnie Brock of Tallahassee, Fla., and an incoming freshman at Stetson University, Deland, said she was witnessing at an outlet mall in Orlando when she felt led to go into one of the stores. She began talking with an employee folding clothes, telling her about what she was doing in Orlando.

"She was saying, 'Oh that's cool. That's neat what you're doing,'" Brock said. After some discussion, she learned the woman was involved with a church but not committed, so she shared the gospel using a tract. "By the time I was done talking to her, she just had tears in her eyes," Brock said.

The woman took a break from her job, and the two went into a back office to pray. Later, another employee who had overheard the first conversation was led to Christ by a student volunteer.

"There are two employees of World of Denim that accepted Jesus Christ in their heart," Brock said.

Andy Lyons of Clarksville, Tenn., was talking with students on the campus of West Valencia Community College when he met a young woman from England who was somewhat familiar with Christianity but had never had anyone explain it to her.

After Lyons shared with her for about five minutes, she readily agreed to pray to ask Christ to become Lord of her life.

"You could just see an automatic change in her life. It was amazing," Lyons said.

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